MS/DoJ: South Carolina's exit won't affect case

New York State Antitrust Chief Stephen D. Houck said today that South Carolina's decision to end its participation in the Microsoft antitrust lawsuit is "totally inconsequential" to the case. Houck added that some other US states have expressed interest in joining the lawsuit.

"South Carolina has not been an active participant in the deliberations of the states for several months now, and we are proceeding full speed ahead," said Houck.

Houck, who has been the lead trial attorney for the now 19 US states involved in the antitrust litigation against Microsoft, wouldn't name the states interested in joining the case. He said, in any event, it may be procedurally impossible to add new plaintiffs to the case.

South Carolina attorney general Charlie Condon said yesterday that his state was pulling out of the lawsuit because the planned merger of America Online with Netscape Communications and their partnership with Sun Microsystems showed that "competition is alive and well".

Houck said the AOL-Netscape merger "has no impact whatsoever on Microsoft's conduct in the past and the need to remedy that".

Microsoft officials have hinted election changes in the US last month could lead to decisions by other US states to drop out of the case.

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